The doctor’s office becomes wearable


Omron HeartGuide

The Omron HeartGuide is a blood pressure machine in wristwatch form. It works just like a full-size machine — a sphygmomanometer — and will be going for FDA clearance. It won’t require a prescription and comes at a time when more of us need it: New blood pressure guidelines issued in early 2018 suggest 46 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, up from 32 percent under the decades-old standard. The maladies hypertension can cause are almost too numerous to count.

If your last annual checkup showed that you have normal blood pressure, don’t sleep too well: Major studies have found that 18-33 percent of us have white coat hypertension, where high blood pressure only presents itself at the doctor’s office. And perhaps another 10 percent of us have masked hypertension, which doesn’t show up at all during a physical. Constant monitoring can surface these, so you’re neither taking pills you don’t need, nor not taking pills you should.

Dexcom G6

The Dexcom G6 is a small glucose monitor that wirelessly reports your blood sugar reading as often as every 5 minutes without finger sticks or calibration in most cases. Just carry a small Bluetooth reader or use the G6 app on your phone. The readings are 10-20 minutes delayed since the device doesn’t directly read blood, but its ability to record and reveal insights is, technically, the painless equivalent of 288 finger sticks per day.

See at Dexcom

The Medtronic Guardian Connect and Abbott Freestyle Libre round out this competitive category and all are aimed at eventually getting many of us to to wear them to avoid ever becoming Type II diabetic. That will require progress on retail pricing or Medicare coverage, which the Dexcom G6 does not yet enjoy.

See at Medtronic

Alivecor KardiaBand 

The $199 Alivecor KardiaBand is the first FDA-cleared watch band that functions as a simple electrocardiogram (ECG) machine, something you used to have to visit a clinic to benefit from. The band is 84 percent accurate at discriminating normal heartbeat from atrial fibrillation, a key contributor to future risk of stroke

Alivecor and Omron work together so their products can blend their respective health signals into a more meaningful snapshot, so you and your doctor get more insights, not just more data. For the majority of people who don’t have an Apple Watch, Alivecor offers the same functionality in a form that works with any smartphone and only costs $99.

See at Alivecor

Beyond Verbal

A groundbreaking study conducted at Mayo Clinic recently found the first evidence that voice may be an accurate indicator of whether a person has coronary artery disease. Eighty-one tonal features of voice were measured after patients spoke to a recording app using technology from vocal biomarker company Beyond Verbal. Pending further confirmation, this could open the door to you monitoring your circulatory health by just talking.

So the gear is here, but revolutionizing health is never as easy as that. Where does all this need to go next?

We need answers, not just information, and those answers need to be shaped to motivate us, not overwhelm or discourage us. The fitness band taught us that numbers alone aren’t very engaging after a while. And these devices will find a cold reception in the clinical world if they just upload lots of raw data to busy doctors.

A single dashboard of insights from all of our health signals will keep consumers engaged. Those signals will come from our wearables, phones, voice devices, connected cars, social graphs and smart home devices. They already speak to our wellness, we just don’t know their language yet.

Over the counter is the path to mass adoption. If personal health gear is unnecessarily encumbered with prescriptions it will stay virtually locked up in the doctor’s office that we visit once a year, at best. Note that widespread adoption of health monitoring tech could set up a tension between it and pharmaceuticals, whose business it is to treat what this tech may avert.

Somebody has to pay for it. There is significant incremental cost to consumers with this new gear and most will not want to pay for it. Employers, insurers and regulators need to act in unison to find the most useful tech and get it paid for. Continuous glucose monitors are typically covered, while other devices may only qualify for HSA or flex spend account dollars.

3 Ways AI Is Getting More Emotional


In January of 2018, Annette Zimmermann, vice president of research at Gartner, proclaimed: “By 2022, your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family.” Just two months later, a landmark study from the University of Ohio claimed that their algorithm was now better at detecting emotions than people are.

AI systems and devices will soon recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human emotions. A combination of facial analysis, voice pattern analysis, and deep learning can already decode human emotions for market research and political polling purposes. With companies like Affectiva,  BeyondVerbal and Sensay providing plug-and-play sentiment analysis software, the affective computing market is estimated to grow to $41 billion by 2022, as firms like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple race to decode their users’ emotions.

Emotional inputs will create a shift from data-driven IQ-heavy interactions to deep EQ-guided experiences, giving brands the opportunity to connect to customers on a much deeper, more personal level. But reading people’s emotions is a delicate business. Emotions are highly personal, and users will have concerns about fear privacy invasion and manipulation. Before companies dive in, leaders should consider questions like:

  1. What are you offering? Does your value proposition naturally lend itself to the involvement of emotions? And can you credibly justify the inclusion of emotional clues for the betterment of the user experience?
  2. What are your customers’ emotional intentions when interacting with your brand? What is the nature of the interaction?
  3. Has the user given you explicit permission to analyze their emotions? Does the user stay in control of their data, and can they revoke their permission at any given time?
  4. Is your system smart enough to accurately read and react to a user’s emotions?
  5. What is the danger in any given situation if the system should fail — danger for the user, and/or danger for the brand?

Keeping those concerns in mind, business leaders should be aware of current applications for Emotional AI. These fall roughly into three categories:

Systems that use emotional analysis to adjust their response.

In this application, the AI service acknowledges emotions and factors them into its decision making process. However, the service’s output is completely emotion-free.

Conversational IVRs (interactive voice response) and chatbots promise to route customers to the right service flow faster and more accurately when factoring in emotions. For example, when the system detects a user to be angry, they are routed to a different escalation flow, or to a human.

AutoEmotive, Affectiva’s Automotive AI, and Ford are racing to get emotional car software market-ready to detect human emotions such as anger or lack of attention, and then take control over or stop the vehicle, preventing accidents or acts of road rage.

The security sector also dabbles in Emotion AI to detect stressed or angry people. The British government, for instance, monitors its citizens’ sentiments on certain topics over social media.

In this category, emotions play a part in the machine’s decision-making process. However, the machine still reacts like a machine — essentially, as a giant switchboard routing people in the right direction.

Systems that provide a targeted emotional analysis for learning purposes.

In 2009, Philips teamed up with a Dutch bank to develop the idea of a  “rationalizer” bracelet to stop traders from making irrational decisions by monitoring their stress levels, which it measures by monitoring the wearer’s pulse. Making traders aware of their heightened emotional states made them pause and think before making impulse decisions.

Brain Power’s smart glasses help people with autism better understand emotions and social cues. The wearer of this Google Glass type device sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation — for example coaching on facial expressions of emotions, when to look at people, and even feedback on the user’s own emotional state.

These targeted emotional analysis systems acknowledge and interpret emotions. The insights are communicated to the user for learning purposes. On a personal level, these targeted applications will act like a Fitbit for the heart and mind, aiding in mindfulness, self-awareness, and ultimately self-improvement, while maintaining a machine-person relationship that keeps the user in charge.

Targeted emotional learning systems are also being tested for group settings, such as by analyzing the emotions of students for teachers, or workers for managers. Scaling to group settings can have an Orwellian feeling: Concerns about privacy, creativity, and individuality have these experiments playing on the edge of ethical acceptance. More importantly, adequate psychological training for the people in power is required to interpret the emotional results, and to make adequate adjustments.

Systems that mimic and ultimately replace human-to- human interactions.

When smart speakers entered the American living room in 2014, we started to get used to hearing computers refer to themselves as “I.” Call it a human error or an evolutionary shortcut, but when machines talk, people assume relationships.

There are now products and services that use conversational UIs and the concept of “computers as social actors” to try to alleviate mental-health concerns. These applications aim to coach users through crises using techniques from behavioral therapy. Ellie helps treat soldiers with PTSD. Karim helps Syrian refugees overcome trauma. Digital assistants are even tasked with helping alleviate loneliness among the elderly.

Casual applications like Microsoft’s XiaoIce, Google Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa use social and emotional cues for a less altruistic purpose — their aim is to secure users’ loyalty by acting like new AI BFFs. Futurist Richard van Hooijdonk quips: “If a marketer can get you to cry, he can get you to buy.”

The discussion around addictive technology is starting to examine the intentions behind voice assistants. What does it mean for users if personal assistants are hooked up to advertisers? In a leaked Facebook memo, for example, the social media company boasted to advertisers that it could detect, and subsequently target, teens’ feelings of “worthlessness” and “insecurity,” among other emotions.

Judith Masthoff of the University of Aberdeen says, “I would like people to have their own guardian angel that could support them emotionally throughout the day.”  But in order to get to that ideal, a series of (collectively agreed upon) experiments will need to guide designers and brands toward the appropriate level of intimacy, and a series of failures will determine the rules for maintaining trust, privacy, and emotional boundaries.

The biggest hurdle to finding the right balance might not be achieving more effective forms of emotional AI, but finding emotionally intelligent humans to build them.

How Companies Are Integrating Voice Recognition Into Medicine


Companies have been working to integrate voice recognition into healthcare since the technology’s inception. From physician dictations to patient engagement, voice recognition has an immense amount of potential for facilitating processes in medical practice. Here, we highlight some of the key uses of voice recognition in medicine and associated companies.

Senior Care

In senior care, voice recognition allows elderly patients who prefer to be stationary to improve their health within their homes. Lifepod is a caregiving service that provides day-to-day management assistance for seniors. It provides reminders for medications, schedules, activities, appointments, and even entertainment, facilitating the lives of not only the seniors themselves, but their caregivers as well. Another voice recognition technology, ElliQ offers an AI social robot that suggests activities for elders to partake in, promoting an active lifestyle. RemindMeCare is a similar companion software, offered to consumers through Amazon Alexa software.

Record Keeping

Voice recognition in physician notetaking is arguably the most commonly discussed use of voice recognition in healthcare, aiming to aid in electronic health record keeping. Kiroku is one such technology, capable of listening in on physician-patient conversations and automatically writing the notes. Another device, Notable, utilizes a wearable voice interface and artificial intelligence system to record clinical visits in a similar manner. Being that physician notes often consume a large portion of a doctors day, these devices are potential mechanisms of freeing up more time for practitioners to interact with patients rather than record notes.

Patient Evaluation

Software is being developed to determine patient condition based on vocal features as well. BeyondVerbal is one such company that has created a system that examines a patient’s voice in real time to anayze patient wellbeing, health condition, and provide emotional insight. Healthymize is utilizing similar speech monitoring through breath during voice calls, allowing audio recognition technology to work without the patient even being in the office. Corti uses a deep-learning artificial intelligence system that specializes in using voice recognition to aid a physician in making difficult medical decisions in real time.

With many patients calling on Alexa for weather, music, and news everyday within their homes, the use of voice recognition platforms is becoming a very common practice. Many companies like those discussed above are aiming to integrate this popular technology into the medical setting in a plethora of ways. With voice recognition being such a young concept and many artificial intelligence banks just starting to obtain information, the potential impact this technology will have on healthcare could be revolutionary.

37 Startups building voice applications for healthcare


As the next frontier in human-technology interfaces, voice-enabled and voice-first technologies are leading the way in many innovative applications across industries. Predictions that 50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020 and that 55 percent of US households will have a smart speaker by 2022 have entrepreneurs, developers, product managers, and marketers rushing to figure out how they can capture the upcoming surge of voice-based technology.

In healthcare, voice technology finds a market particularly rife with potential and impactful use cases. The high cost of labor for physicians and other skilled workers – who spent countless hours inputting data into their electronic health records – is one example of an opportunity for startups to disrupt the status quo. In fact, one landscape of B2B voice technology startups across all verticals found that 47.1 percent of companies that were focused on a single sector were focused on healthcare.

From “Voice Tech Landscape: 150+ Infrastructure, Horizontal and Vertical Startups Mapped and Analysed”, Savina van der Straten, Dec 13, 2017.

From “Voice Tech Landscape: 150+ Infrastructure, Horizontal and Vertical Startups Mapped and Analysed”, Savina van der Straten, Dec 13, 2017.

We sorted 37 startups building products at the intersection of voice and healthcare by how they are tackling this market, in hopes of giving those interested in learning more about this exciting frontier an opportunity to check out what voice-based innovations might hit their office, clinic, or home in the next several years.

Voice is uniquely positioned to be a valuable tool for seniors who wish to stay in their homes – especially for those who are unable to use other forms of technology that may require mobility, dexterity of the hands, and/or good vision (such as smartphones). These startups take advantage of voice-first technology for seniors.

  • Cuida Health helps seniors connect with family, get access to services, adopt healthy habits, and thrive independently.

  • ElliQ is a proactive AI-driven social robot designed to encourage an active and engaged lifestyle by suggesting activities and making it simple to connect with loved ones.

  • LifePod is a voice-first caregiving service designed to improve the quality of life for caregivers and their loved ones by monitoring and supporting their daily routines.

  • Memory Lane is a way for users to easily recollect their lives, improve their mood, and share stories with family and friends.
  • Reminder Rosie is a simple, hands-free, inexpensive solution to remember your medication, appointments, and every-day tasks.
  • RemindMeCare is a person-centered care, activities and companionship software, available as an app integrated with Alexa.

  • Senter combines the latest IoT and AI technologies with a heavy focus on thoughtful user experience to make the home healthier and safer for aging individuals.

Patient-Provider Communication

Many voice technologies are automating or simplifying communication between patients and providers. Intelligent bots can save clinical staff valuable time and complete tasks – like appointment scheduling and reminders in an outpatient setting, or care team coordination in an inpatient setting.

  • Aiva is a voice-powered care assistant that enables hands-free communication for happier patients and better workflow.

  • uses AI to provide around the clock assistance for scheduling, rescheduling, and cancellation for all appointment types for both new and existing patients.

  •’s virtual hospital assistant not only saves cost with intelligent interactions, but helps doctors and other staff to be more productive, while improving patient experience.

  • Syllable is a chatbot for healthcare that enables engaging, conversational experiences on your website or in your mobile app.

  • VoiceFriend is a simple yet powerful notification solution that enables you to easily keep seniors, staff and families informed of events and important information.

Physician Notes

Forty-two percent of physicians feel “burned out,” according to Medscape. One of the major causes is the amount of time clinicians inevitably spend behind a computer, entering information from their last patient interaction into their electronic health record (EHR). Several startups are using voice technology as a virtual scribe to enter physician notes into the EHR.

  • Kiroku’s sophisticated natural language system can pick up context in a conversation between you and the patient and automatically write your clinical notes for you.

  • MDOps dramatically reduces the documentation time with you dictating and filing clinical notes using your iPhone or iPad, allowing you to spend more time with more patients.

  • Notable uses wearable tech, voice interface, and artificial intelligence to enrich every patient-physician interaction.

  • Saykara is simplifying data capture with a new artificial intelligence-based virtual scribe solution that eliminates the hassle of working with EHRs.

  • Sopris Health is an intelligent clinical operations platform offering a pioneering A.I. medical scribe technology to tackle clinical inefficiencies.

  • Suki is a digital assistant for doctors that starts by helping lift the burden of medical documentation.

  • is an automated medical scribe that listens to your patient visits via a small microphone in the exam room and creates an accurate patient note in real time. 

Speech & Hearing Difficulty

Several startups use voice technology to help improve the lives of those with speech and/or hearing difficulties. Some developers use natural language processing to turn spoken words into text and vice versa. Additional innovations may track disease progression over time using this data, as well.

  • Ava empowers deaf & hard-of-hearing people to a 24/7 accessible life by showing them who says what.

  • VocaliD leverages voicebank and proprietary voice blending technology to create unique vocal personas for any device that turns text into speech.

  • Voiceitt is developing the world’s first speech recognition technology designed to understand non-standard speech.

Development Platforms

These companies make it easy for those who want to develop and publish voice applications, especially if they want to publish across multiple platforms (e.g. Amazon Alexa and Google Home) at once.

  • ConversationHealth creates powerful bots to support the clinical journey of all stakeholders.

  • Orbita is an enterprise-grade platform for creating and maintaining voice-powered healthcare applications, across both voice and chatbot interfaces.

Vocal Biomarkers

Vocal patterns such as pitch, tone, rhythm, volume, and rate can serve as powerful data points – “vocal biomarkers.” This information can aid care teams in their diagnosis of a variety of conditions — from cognitive disorders to heart attacks (and many more). 

  • BeyondVerbal has developed a technology that extracts various acoustic features from a speaker’s voice, in real time, giving insights on personal health condition, wellbeing, and emotional understanding.

  • Cogito improves care management with real-time emotional intelligence.

  • Corti is a digital assistant that leverages deep learning to help medical personnel make critical decisions in the heat of the moment.

  • Healthymize provides personalized speech monitoring based on analysis of patients’ voice and breathing during regular voice calls.

  • NeuroLex strives to be the world’s leading platform company to advance linguistics as a tool to characterize various health conditions.

  • Sonde is developing a voice-based technology with the potential to transform the way we monitor and diagnose mental and physical health.

  • WinterLight Labs has developed a novel AI technology that can quickly and accurately quantify speech and language patterns to help detect and monitor cognitive and mental diseases.

Patient Engagement

These startups take their voice applications to the patient’s home, and use a voice interface to keep patients engaged in their care in between visits with their providers. Many are designed for patients with chronic conditions, to help close gaps in care for the 99 percent of the time that a patient is not in their doctor’s office.

  • CardioCube voice-based AI software is an everyday companion to help manage your chronic heart disease. Your healthcare provider in the hospital or clinic gets your disease insights for better and faster decisions.

  • CareAngel is a patient-focused virtual nurse assistant that helps individuals maintain health and well-being to close gaps in care and improve outcomes.

  • HealthTap’s Doctor A.I. is a personal Artificial Intelligence-powered “physician” that helps route users to doctor-recommended insights and care immediately.

  • Sensely intelligently connects people with clinical advice and services, enhancing access without compromising empathy.

  • Kencor Health integrates with the latest AI technology to keep your patients engaged in their treatment plan while keeping your team connected to how they are doing.
  • Pillo is the digital health assistant for the home dedicated to the health of you and your loved ones.

We look forward to continuing to track the progress of these startups, and others who are sure to form in the coming months and years. Even better, we look forward to exploring their solutions live at the Voice.Health Summit on October 17 in Boston. Learn more about the summit, who will be there (in addition to many of the startups mentioned above), and how you can attend at

This piece was produced in collaboration with the Boston Children’s Hospital Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator, a multi-disciplinary team addressing the unmet needs of patients/families, clinicians, and health systems across the enterprise and around the globe though the power of digital health. Together with the Personal Connected Health Alliance and Modev, they are bringing a first-of-its-kind gathering of technologists, clinicians, innovators and industry together at the Voice.Health Summit in Boston on Oct. 17. The summit is an official co-located event of the Connected Health Conference and will showcase a number of the disruptive startups outlined below in an immersive patient journey experience.



This blog post is a roundup of voice emotion analytics companies. It is the first in a series that aim to provide a good overview of the voice technology landscape as it stands. Through a combination of online searches, industry reports and face-to-face conversations, I’ve assembled a long list of companies in the voice space, and divided these into categories based on their apparent primary function.

The first of these categories is voice emotion analytics. These are companies that can process an audio file containing human speech, extract the paralinguistic features and interpret these as human emotions, then provide an analysis report or other service based on this information.

Beyond Verbal

Beyond Verbal was founded in 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel by Yuval Mor. Their patented voice emotion analytics technology extracts various acoustic features from a speaker’s voice, in real time, giving insights on personal health condition, wellbeing and emotional understanding. The technology does not analyze the linguistic context or content of conversations, nor does it record a speaker’s statements. It detects changes in vocal range that indicate things like anger, or anxiety, or happiness, or satisfaction, and cover nuances in mood, attitude, and decision-making characteristics.

Beyond Verbal’s voice emotion analysis is used in various use cases by clients in a range industries. These include HMOs, life insurance and pharma companies, as well as call centres, robotics and wearable manufacturers, and research institutions. An example use case would be to help customer services representatives improve their own performance, by monitoring the call audio in real-time. An alert can be sent to the agent if they start to lose his/her temper with the customer on the phone, making them aware of their change in mood, and affording them the opportunity to correct their tone.

The technology is offered as a API-style cloud-based licensed service that can be integrated into bigger projects. It measures:

  • Valence – a variable which ranges from negativity to positivity. When listening to a person talk, it is possible to understand how “positive” or “negative” the person feels about the subject, object or event under discussion.
  • Arousal – a variable that ranges from tranquility/boredom to alertness/excitement. It corresponds to similar concepts such as level of activation and stimulation.
  • Temper – an emotional measure that covers a speaker’s entire mood range. Low temper describes depressive and gloomy moods. Medium temper describes friendly, warm and embracive moods. High temper values describe confrontational, domineering and aggressive moods.
  • Mood groups – an indicator of speaker’s emotional state during the analyzed voice segment. The API produces a total of 11 mood groups which range from anger, loneliness and self-control to happiness and excitement.
  • Emotion combinations – A combination of various basic emotions, as expressed by the users voice during an analyzed voice section.

“We envision a world in which personal devices understand our emotions and wellbeing, enabling us to become more in tune with ourselves and the messages we communicate to our peers. Understanding emotions can assist us in finding new friends, unlocking new experiences and ultimately, helping us understand better what makes us truly happy.”
Yuval Mor, CEO

to read the full article press here

Daniel Kraft provides glimpse of health tech’s future


The digital age has thrown the healthcare world into a state of feverish change. Though certain elements of the brick-and-mortar hospital remain the same after years, other aspects of medicine are in rapid development. Through new technologies, multiple parts of healthcare have the chance to interact.

“We do have the opportunity now to connect a lot of this new information,” Dr. Daniel Kraft, Singularity University’s faculty chair for medicine and neuroscience and Exponential Medicine’s founder and chair, said in a keynote address at MedCity INVEST on May 1. “As we have these new opportunities … they’re all converging  — essentially super-converging. As entrepreneurs and investors, you want to be looking at this super-convergence because that’s where the opportunity is to innovate, reinvent, reimagine.”

Encouraging attendees to think exponentially instead of linearly, Kraft took a broad look at where healthcare is headed, particularly when it comes to technology. Though wide-ranging and fast-moving, his presentation narrowed in on a few areas.

Health and prevention
Individuals’ behaviors impact the majority of chronic costs in healthcare, Kraft noted. Wearables can play a role in assisting with this issue.

But it’s moved beyond only wearables — there are now technologies like “inside’ables” (chips underneath one’s skin that can track vital signs), “ring’ables” (which track aspects like sleep) and “breath’ables” (which monitor one’s oral health).

Mental health
Within the behavioral health space, companies like Woebot are leveraging technology to provide therapy chatbots to consumers, while entities like Beyond Verbal are using voice to provide insight on emotional health. Other companies are enabling consumers to “game-ify” their meditation experience.

“You can get your own genome done for about $1,000 today,” Kraft said. “It comes with an app.”

He also mentioned Helix, an Illumina spinout that set out to be a hub for consumers to obtain genetic tests, and the work it’s doing in the realm.

“Watch the whole ‘omics space,” Kraft suggested.

Despite the demise of Theranos, there are plenty of opportunities in the field to make a mark. The digital stethoscope is emerging as a new type of diagnostic tool. Even the Apple Watch is becoming a diagnostic, Kraft said. Platforms can make it easier to do a remote ear exam, and apps can listen to a cough and diagnose pneumonia.

Even a broad look at these few areas unveils the value in connecting the dots between technology and the healthcare environment. And Kraft appears to be taking his own advice. His Exponential Medicine program is moving into the prescription health app service space, he said.

Looking down the road, the goal is to collaborate and move from “sick care” to a more proactive approach.

“I think the future is going to be … data [and] convergence amongst many technologies,” Kraft said. “We can all become futurists. It’s our opportunity to go out there and not predict the future but hopefully create it together.”

Photo: Jack Soltysik

Your voice will guide your chores, healthcare and driving

In 5 years, voice tech will help doctors diagnose and operate, carmakers provide customized web content, HR professionals judge job applicants and more.


Back in 1995, Shlomo Peller founded Rubidium in the visionary belief that voice user interface (VUI) could be embedded in anything from a TV remote to a microwave oven, if only the technology were sufficiently small, powerful, inexpensive and reliable.

“This was way before IoT [the Internet of Things], when voice recognition was done by computers the size of a room,” Peller tells ISRAEL21c.

“Our first product was a board that cost $1,000. Four years later we deployed our technology in a single-chip solution at the cost of $1. That’s how fast technology moves.”

But consumers’ trust moved more slowly. Although Rubidium’s VUI technology was gradually deployed in tens of millions of products, people didn’t consider voice-recognition technology truly reliable until Apple’s virtual personal assistant, Siri, came on the scene in 2011.

“Siri made the market soar. It was the first technology with a strong market presence that people felt they could count on,” says Peller, whose Ra’anana-based company’s voice-trigger technology now is built into Jabra wireless sports earbuds and 66 Audio PRO Voice’s smart wireless headphones

“People see that VUI is now something you can put anywhere in your house,” says Peller. “You just talk to it and it talks back and it makes sense. All the giants are suddenly playing in this playground and voice recognition is everywhere. Voice is becoming the most desirable user interface.”

Still, the technology is not yet as fast, fluent and reliable as it could be. VUI depends on good Internet connectivity and can be battery-draining.

We asked the heads of Israeli companies Rubidium, VoiceSense and BeyondVerbal to predict what might be possible five years down the road, once these issues are fixed.

Here’s what they had to say.

Cars and factories

Rubidium’s Peller says that in five years’ time, voice user interface will be part of everything we do, from turning on lights, to doing laundry, to driving.

“I met with a big automaker to discuss voice interface in cars, and their working assumption is that within a couple of years all cars will be continuously connected to the Internet, and that connection will include voice interface,” says Peller.

“All the giants are suddenly playing in this playground and voice recognition is everywhere. Voice is becoming the most desirable user interface.”

“The use cases we find interesting are where the user interface isn’t standard, like if you try to talk to the Internet while doing a fitness activity, when you’re breathing heavily and maybe wind is blowing into the mic. Or if you try to use VUI on a factory production floor and it’s very noisy.”

As voice-user interface moves to the cloud, privacy concerns will have to be dealt with, says Peller.

“We see that there has to be a seamless integration of local (embedded) technology and technology in the cloud.

“The first part of what you say, your greeting or ‘wakeup phrase,’ is recognized locally and the second part (like ‘What’s the weather tomorrow?’) is sent to the cloud. It already works like that on Alexa but it’s not efficient. Eventually we’ll see it on smartwatches and sports devices.”

Diagnosing illness

Tel Aviv-based Beyond Verbal analyzes emotions from vocal intonations. Its Moodies app is used in 174 countries to help gauge what speakers’ voices (in any language) reveal about their emotional status. Moodies is used by employers for job interviewees, retailers for customers, and many other scenarios.

The company’s direction is shifting to health, as the voice-analysis platform has been found to hold clues to well-being and medical conditions, says Yoram Levanon, Beyond Verbal’s chief scientist.

“There are distortions in the voice if somebody is ill, and if we can correlate the source of the distortions to the illness we can get a lot of information about the illness,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

“We worked with the Mayo Clinic for two years confirming that our technology can detect the presence or absence of a cardio disorder in a 90-second voice clip.

“We are also working with other hospitals in the world on finding verbal links to ADHD, Parkinson’s, dyslexia and mental diseases. We’re developing products and licensing the platform, and also looking to do joint ventures with AI companies to combine their products with ours.”

Levanon says that in five years, healthcare expenses will rise dramatically and many countries will experience a severe shortage of physicians. He envisions Beyond Verbal’s technology as a low-cost decision-support system for doctors.

“The population is aging and living longer so the period of time we have to monitor, from age 60 to 110, takes a lot of money and health professionals. Recording a voice costs nearly nothing and we can find a vocal biomarker for a problem before it gets serious. For example, if my voice reveals that I am depressed there is a high chance I will get Alzheimer’s disease,” says Levanon.

Beyond Verbal could synch with the AI elements in phones, smart home devices or other IoT devices to understand the user’s health situation and deliver alerts.

Your car will catch on to your mood

Banks use voice-analysis technology from Herzliya-based VoiceSense to determine potential customers’ likelihood of defaulting on a loan. Pilot projects with banks and insurance companies in the United States, Australia and Europe are helping to improve sales, loyalty and risk assessment regardless of the language spoken.

“We were founded more than a decade ago with speech analytics for call centers to monitor customer dissatisfaction in real time,” says CEO Yoav Degani.

“We noticed some of the speech patterns reflected current state of mind but others tended to reflect ongoing personality aspects and our research linked speech patterns to particular behavior tendencies. Now we can offer a full personality profile in real time for many different use cases such as medical and financial.”

Degani says the future of voice-recognition tech is about integrating data from multiple sensors for enhanced predictive analytics of intonation and content.

“Also of interest is the level of analysis that could be achieved by integrating current state of mind with overall personal tendencies, since both contribute to a person’s behavior. You could be dissatisfied at the moment and won’t purchase something but perhaps you tend to buy online in general, and you tend to buy these types of products,” says Degani.

In connected cars, automakers will use voice analysis to adjust the web content sent to each passenger in the vehicle. “If the person is feeling agitated, they could send soothing music,” says Degani.

Personal robots, he predicts, will advance from understanding the content of the user’s speech to understanding the user’s state of mind. “Once they can do that, they can respond more intelligently and even pick up on depression and illness.”

He predicts that in five years’ time people will routinely provide voice samples to healthcare providers for analytics; and human resources professionals will be able to judge a job applicant’s suitability for a specific position on the basis of recorded voice analysis using a job-matching score.

Emotion AI: Why your refrigerator could soon understand your moods


Artificial intelligence is already making our devices more personal — from simplifying daily tasks to increasing productivity. Emotion AI (also called affective computing) will take this to new heights by helping our devices understand our moods. That means we can expect smart refrigerators that interpret how we feel (based on what we say, how we slam the door) and then suggest foods to match those feelings. Our cars could even know when we’re angry, based on our driving habits.

Humans use non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, to communicate a range of feelings. Emotion AI goes beyond natural language processing by using computer vision and voice analysis to detect those moods and emotions. Voice of the customer (VoC) programs will leverage emotion AI technology to perform granular and individual sentiment analysis at scale. The result: Our devices will be in tune with us.

Conversational services

Digital giants — including Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Baidu, and Tencent — have been investing in AI techniques that enhance their platforms and ecosystems. We are still at “Level 1” when it comes to conversational services such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant. However, the market is set to reach new levels in the next one to two years.

Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users employ conversational systems on a daily basis, according to a 2017 Gartner survey of online adults in the United States. These services will not only become more intelligent and sophisticated in terms of processing verbal commands and questions, they will also grow to understand emotional states and contexts.

Today, there are a handful of available smartphone apps and connected home devices that can capture a user’s emotions. Additional prototypes and commercial products exist — for example, Emoshape’s connected home hub, Beyond Verbal‘s voice recognition app, and the connected home VPA Hubble. Large technology vendors such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft are investing in this emerging area, as are ambitious startups.

At this stage, one of the most significant shortcomings of such systems is a lack of contextual information. Adding emotional context by analyzing data points from facial expressions, voice intonation, and behavioral patterns will significantly enhance the user experience.

Wearables and connected cars

In the second wave of development for emotion AI, we will see value brought to many more areas, including educational software, video games, diagnostic software, athletic and health performance, and autonomous cars. Developments are underway in all of these fields, but 2018 will see many products realized and an increased number of new projects.

Beyond smartphones and connected-home devices, wearables and the connected car will collect, analyze, and process users’ emotional data via computer vision, audio, or sensors. The captured behavioral data will allow these devices to adapt or respond to a user’s needs.

Technology vendors, including Affectiva, Eyeris, and Audeering, are working with the automotive OEMs to develop new experiences inside the car that monitor users’ behavior in order to offer assistance, monitor safe-driving behavior, and enhance their ride.

There is also an opportunity for more specialized devices, such as medical wristbands that can anticipate a seizure a few minutes before the actual event, facilitating early response. Special apps developed for diagnostics and therapy may be able to recognize conditions such as depression or help children with autism.

Another important area is the development of anthropomorphic qualities in AI systems — such as personal assistant robots (PARs) that can adapt to different emotional contexts or individuals. A PAR will develop a “personality” as it has more interactions with a specific person, allowing it to better meet the user’s needs. Vendors such as IBM, as well as startups like Emoshape, are developing techniques to lend such anthropomorphic qualities to robotic systems.

VoC will help brands understand their consumers

Beyond enhancing robotics and personal devices, emotion AI can be applied in customer experience initiatives, such as VoC programs. A fleet of vendors already offer sentiment analysis by mining billions of data points on social media platforms and user forums. Some of these programs are limited to distinguishing between positive and negative sentiments while others are more advanced, capable of attributing nuanced emotional states — but so far, only in the aggregate.

We are still at an early stages when it comes to enhancing VoC programs with emotion AI. Technology providers will have to take a consultative approach with their clients — most of whom will be new to the concept of emotion AI. While there are only a few isolated use cases for emotion AI at the moment, we can expect it to eventually offer tools that transform virtually every aspect of our daily lives.

Annette Zimmermann is the research vice president at Gartner, a research and advisory company.

$10 million XPRIZE Aims for Robot Avatars That Let You See, Hear, and Feel by 2021


Ever wished you could be in two places at the same time? The XPRIZE Foundation wants to make that a reality with a $10 million competition to build robot avatars that can be controlled from at least 100 kilometers away.

The competition was announced by XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis at the SXSW conference in Austin last week, with an ambitious timeline of awarding the grand prize by October 2021. Teams have until October 31st to sign up, and they need to submit detailed plans to a panel of judges by the end of next January.

The prize, sponsored by Japanese airline ANA, has given contestants little guidance on how they expect them to solve the challenge other than saying their solutions need to let users see, hear, feel, and interact with the robot’s environment as well as the people in it.

XPRIZE has also not revealed details of what kind of tasks the robots will be expected to complete, though they’ve said tasks will range from “simple” to “complex,” and it should be possible for an untrained operator to use them.

That’s a hugely ambitious goal that’s likely to require teams to combine multiple emerging technologies, from humanoid robotics to virtual reality high-bandwidth communications and high-resolution haptics.

If any of the teams succeed, the technology could have myriad applications, from letting emergency responders enter areas too hazardous for humans to helping people care for relatives who live far away or even just allowing tourists to visit other parts of the world without the jet lag.

“Our ability to physically experience another geographic location, or to provide on-the-ground assistance where needed, is limited by cost and the simple availability of time,” Diamandis said in a statement.

“The ANA Avatar XPRIZE can enable creation of an audacious alternative that could bypass these limitations, allowing us to more rapidly and efficiently distribute skill and hands-on expertise to distant geographic locations where they are needed, bridging the gap between distance, time, and cultures,” he added.

Interestingly, the technology may help bypass an enduring hand break on the widespread use of robotics: autonomy. By having a human in the loop, you don’t need nearly as much artificial intelligence analyzing sensory input and making decisions.

Robotics software is doing a lot more than just high-level planning and strategizing, though. While a human moves their limbs instinctively without consciously thinking about which muscles to activate, controlling and coordinating a robot’s components requires sophisticated algorithms.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge demonstrated just how hard it was to get human-shaped robots to do tasks humans would find simple, such as opening doors, climbing steps, and even just walking. These robots were supposedly semi-autonomous, but on many tasks they were essentially tele-operated, and the results suggested autonomy isn’t the only problem.

There’s also the issue of powering these devices. You may have noticed that in a lot of the slick web videos of humanoid robots doing cool things, the machine is attached to the roof by a large cable. That’s because they suck up huge amounts of power.

Possibly the most advanced humanoid robot—Boston Dynamics’ Atlas—has a battery, but it can only run for about an hour. That might be fine for some applications, but you don’t want it running out of juice halfway through rescuing someone from a mine shaft.

When it comes to the link between the robot and its human user, some of the technology is probably not that much of a stretch. Virtual reality headsets can create immersive audio-visual environments, and a number of companies are working on advanced haptic suits that will let people “feel” virtual environments.

Motion tracking technology may be more complicated. While even consumer-grade devices can track peoples’ movements with high accuracy, you will probably need to don something more like an exoskeleton that can both pick up motion and provide mechanical resistance, so that when the robot bumps into an immovable object, the user stops dead too.

How hard all of this will be is also dependent on how the competition ultimately defines subjective terms like “feel” and “interact.” Will the user need to be able to feel a gentle breeze on the robot’s cheek or be able to paint a watercolor? Or will simply having the ability to distinguish a hard object from a soft one or shake someone’s hand be enough?

Whatever the fidelity they decide on, the approach will require huge amounts of sensory and control data to be transmitted over large distances, most likely wirelessly, in a way that’s fast and reliable enough that there’s no lag or interruptions. Fortunately 5G is launching this year, with a speed of 10 gigabits per second and very low latency, so this problem should be solved by 2021.

And it’s worth remembering there have already been some tentative attempts at building robotic avatars. Telepresence robots have solved the seeing, hearing, and some of the interacting problems, and MIT has already used virtual reality to control robots to carry out complex manipulation tasks.

South Korean company Hankook Mirae Technology has also unveiled a 13-foot-tall robotic suit straight out of a sci-fi movie that appears to have made some headway with the motion tracking problem, albeit with a human inside the robot. Toyota’s T-HR3 does the same, but with the human controlling the robot from a “Master Maneuvering System” that marries motion tracking with VR.

Combining all of these capabilities into a single machine will certainly prove challenging. But if one of the teams pulls it off, you may be able to tick off trips to the Seven Wonders of the World without ever leaving your house.

Image Credit: ANA Avatar XPRIZE

Mapping Israel’s Burgeoning Digital Health Ecosystem

This article is a guest post on NoCamels and has been contributed by a third party. NoCamels assumes no responsibility for the content, including facts, visuals and opinions presented by the author(s).

Dorian Barak is the founder and managing partner of Indigo Global, a boutique Israeli investment advisory firm focused on cross-border financing transactions, working with a broad array of investors, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Zack Fagan is an associate at Indigo Global.

Alongside cybersecurity and telecommunications, Life Sciences has been at the forefront of the Israeli technology boom for many years, with over 50 successful exits since 2012 and more than 25 Israeli medical companies listed on NASDAQ. Boasting one of the world’s most advanced healthcare systems and the highest concentration of life science researchers and professionals per capita, the local ecosystem is continually finding new and innovative ways to treat and cure the most challenging medical conditions.

Today, driven by innovations in enabling technologies such as computer vision and smart sensors, as well as a shift in medical care towards patient centricity, the Israeli digital health sector is emerging as a bright spot of the broader healthcare industry. Although digital health is a relatively young field both in Israel and globally, it is actually one of Israel’s most rapidly growing industries and one that can have a profound impact on the world.


What is Digital Health?

Broadly defined, digital health refers to technology-enabled healthcare based on the integration of AI, big data, computer vision, digital media, sensors and smart devices with traditional medicine. Utilizing these technologies, “Digital Health” enables the provision of remote healthcare, promotes data-driven diagnostics and treatment, increases efficiency and accuracy, and facilitates highly personalized medical care.

The industry has evolved and developed swiftly over the past few years due to the increased availability and robustness of supporting technologies. For example, the advent of the smartphone has enabled a revolution in the delivery of personalized healthcare. According to a report published by Transparency Market Research, the Global Digital Health Market is expected to exceed $500B by 2025, with a CAGR of 13.4% over that time.

This growth has attracted the attention of VCs, corporates, and healthcare players alike, as companies in the industry raised a whopping $8 billion globally in 2016, with upwards of 200 new investors joining the fray. Private investment, alongside strong government support, has driven the emergence of digital health hubs around the world, from Silicon Valley to Boston, London, Berlin, Switzerland, and Israel.

The Rise of Digital Health in Israel

srael’s digital health industry may still be in its infancy, but it is quickly maturing into one of the world’s leaders. According to a report published by Startup Nation Central, the number of digital health companies in Israel skyrocketed from 65 in 2005 to nearly 400 in 2016. Over the course of 2016, the industry saw a 27 percent increase in investment as well, reaching $183 million.

The Israeli Digital Health Startup Map

In Israel and globally, digital health is driven not only by innovation in technology but also by a change in the philosophy of medical care. Gone are the days of “system” centric care that resulted in one-size-fits-all treatment with a generalized approach to care. The “new healthcare” is driven by increasing the efficiency, quality, and personalization of care within healthcare centers, while also shifting the care to the patient within their own homes.

In order to show how this trend and the surge in new technologies is manifested in Israel, we built the below infographic mapping the Israeli digital health ecosystem. The infographic is not comprehensive, as there are hundreds of active companies in Israel, with new startups launching almost daily. But given the rapid evolution of the industry and its complexity, the infographic provides a useful snapshot that highlights the broad solutions that Israel’s digital health companies are beginning to deliver.


As digital health in Israel continues its rise and evolution, boosted by international interest and local support, we expect it to emerge into one of Israel’s most impactful and well-known tech sectors.!!!!